Bad News Is a Story; Good News Is a Statistic, with Dr. David Finkelhor

Season 2Episode 7April 10, 2020

A recent short-term uptick in rates of child sexual abuse in the U.S. sparked this conversation about the long-term reduction in the rates of abuse and neglect and what we can do to keep making progress.


Prof. David Finkelhor joined us to discuss a recent one-year uptick in rates of child sexual abuse in the U.S.—and the longer-term reduction in rates of abuse and neglect (down more than 60% since 1992). What might have caused the uptick? And why are we so quick to spot bad news when the bigger news of a substantial decrease gets so little attention? Does child abuse prevention education in schools work? And what do we need to do to keep driving rates of abuse down?

Topics in this episode:

  • An uptick in child sexual abuse? Should we be concerned? (1:34)
  • Rates of abuse and neglect in the U.S. have gone down more than 60% since 1992 (4:49)
  • Could our success make people take the issue less seriously? (13:34)
  • Prevention education (18:20)
  • Interesting research questions (23:40)
  • Learning from COVID-19 responses and innovation (26:44)
  • Our next episode—if you like the podcast, please share it! (31:15)


David Finkelhor, Ph.D., sociology professor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire

Children’s Bureau (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System

Minnesota Student Survey

National Crime Victimization Survey (U.S. Department of Justice)

Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now

Erin’s Law

NCA’s COVID-19 resources page is publicly available and includes telemental health resources

Transcript to come.